Tourtiere is a French Canadian tradition that is often made on Christmas eve. It’s a meat pie, often filled with pork and beef.
Christmas is a time for some major traditions to come out. It could be in the activities you do with your family – some of my favorite Christmas traditions are new Christmas pajamas every Christmas eve and decorating the tree with my kids. Food plays a major role in traditions around the holidays too. My family has a whole host of sweet treats that get baked every Christmas, and only at Christmas. And we almost always ate a huge Ukrainian feast every Christmas eve. In Canada, and particularly for French Canadians, Tourtiere is the traditional dish that gets enjoyed on Christmas eve.
If you haven’t had (or heard of) it before, Tourtiere is a meat pie, often filled with ground meat (usually a combination of beef and pork). It’s usually seasoned with a blend of spices that are often associated with the holidays, like cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.
I found that I could make my Tourtiere with a mixture of lean ground beef and ground chicken to reduce the saturated fat and red meat content. (And also, that’s what I happened to have in the freezer). I didn’t notice any compromises to the flavor or texture of the pie compared to Tourtieres I have had in the past that are made with pork and beef. I also seasoned mine a little bit more conservatively that some others that I’ve had, because that’s the way I prefer it. There is really no right or wrong way to make Tourtiere – make it to your preferences, and you’ll be sure to love it.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 medium carrot, minced
- 1 stalk celery, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 pounds combination of ground beef, pork and/or chicken (see note)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup leftover mashed potatoes or 1 russet potato, cooked and mashed
- 2 unbaked pie crusts, store bought or homemade
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon milk
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic and salt and saute until softened, about 5 minutes, reducing heat to medium if vegetables begin to brown.
Stir in pepper, cinnamon, cloves and allspice and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground meat and break up with spoon. Cook until browned, about 7-8 minutes. Stir in water and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir in mashed potatoes, and continue to simmer, uncovered until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. (You can refrigerate the cooked meat mixture until ready to cook the pie, up to 2 days).
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Set aside.
Move oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 425°F. Roll one of the pie crusts into a 9 inch pie pan. Spoon the meat filling into the crust. Using your finger or a pastry brush, lightly brush the edges of the pie crust with the egg wash. Place the remaining pie crust on the top of the filling. Crimp the two pie crust together, and cut off any excess. Cut steam vents in the center of the pie with a paring knife. Brush the top of the pie lightly with the egg wash.
Bake pie for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375°F and continue to bake until the top of the crust is well browned, about 35-40 more minutes. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Tourtiere is most often made with half ground beef and half ground pork. I prefer to make mine with half ground beef and half ground chicken to cut down on fat and calories as well as reduce red meat intake. However, I don't recommend using all ground chicken as I believe this would negatively impact the flavor and texture of the tourtiere.
Tourtiere Nutrition Notes:
The above nutrition information uses half extra lean ground beef and half ground chicken thighs. Serve your tourtiere with a green salad and vinaigrette to make a complete meal.